I am mixed race and the number of us are on the rise in the UK, with 12% of households reporting to have mixed race members in the census. Being mixed race allows me to have an understanding of two different cultures and has made me a tolerant and accepting person. The only problem with being mixed race is that there are people on both sides of your race that have a problem with it.
When I was growing up -especially in high school-, I often wished I was white, because everyone else was. I wished that instead of the curls that everyone just had to touch, I had straight hair like my friends. Not just so I wouldn’t have to answer the infuriating question of ‘ooh your hair is so weird, how do you brush it?’ (with a brush, how else?), but so I wouldn’t stand out. Being different can be hard, but it’s best to embrace it, otherwise you’ll attempt to blend in but never feel like you fit in.
As I said before, being mixed race can leave you vulnerable to offensive remarks from both sides of your race. From the white side, there’s the stereotypical immigrant jokes that aren’t actually funny and casual racist remarks and from the black side there are people who say you aren’t black enough. Quite honestly, the idea that someone isn’t ‘black enough’ just because they are middle class or don’t have a regional accent is ridiculous. People within the black community need to support one another and not criticise people who do well -like my father-, no matter the odds stacked against them. This is something I have found and continue to find, particularly sad about the black community.
One last thing, I am mixed race, so if you are going to label me as something, call me that, because I am a mix. I know a few other mixed race people who take issue with this as much as I do. I don’t really care if Barack Obama gave up and just referred to himself as black, I have not. I am proud of being both English and Nigerian. I reject being referred to as black not because there is anything wrong with being black, but because I am not and have no right to call myself so. I am a lovely mixture of two cultures, to deny one side would be unfair, especially the side that has brought me up. Before some of you say that I obviously have a problem with being called black, I hated it just as much when I was called white in Nigeria. I am neither and I am both! Having been called white in Africa and black in the UK, I can tell you that it can make you feel like you do not belong anywhere. So please, next time you are about to refer to someone as a particular race, check, are they actually?
I am so proud of being a mixture of cultures and having family around the world. My family is intercontinental, that can only be a good thing in an increasingly global and internationalised society.